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What Metric is the Most Important at the Contact Center?

Quality metricsNo matter how much everyone wants to see the big picture of customer service, each team has a metric that they tend to use as a north star for their business. We recently asked our ICMI thought leaders and featured contributors which metric they love, and why. Here’s what they said.

Murphy Fraser, Senior Consultant, Strategy & Operations Consulting, Avtex, a TTEC Digital Company

Overall, I always caution clients to be wary of focusing on a single metric to assess their operational health, productivity, or the customer experience delivered out of the contact center. To truly manage our centers through insights, we must marry the qualitative and quantitative and ensure that our numbers are supported by narrative.

The "most important" metric question will always be subjective, based on the strategic priorities, goals, and initiatives unique to an organization's contact center. It's challenging to pinpoint a single metric for the entire industry, but given the current climate, two come to mind:

Employee Attrition

This metric is always important to measure and monitor, but perhaps now more than ever. As the talent market remains tight and challenging, future of work conversations continue, and many people continue to ponder and explore career changes post-pandemic, contact centers must continuously monitor the rate by which folks are leaving. My advice to those focusing on this metric is to ensure we are tracking both internal and external attrition and voluntary and involuntary in a very granular fashion.

What’s more, the attrition rate, as a number or percentage, never tells the whole story. As you monitor this metric, be sure you have the necessary qualitative understanding of why people are leaving. Where are they going? What’s the root cause? From a higher level, measuring attrition properly tells us a lot about our organization’s health and where there are friction points in the employee experience that could be solved with better people, process, design, and technology investments.

Technology Adoption/Utilization

As organizations invest in cloud migrations, CRM implementations, evolve their channel offerings, strive to improve channel connectivity, and so much more, we must do a better job of measuring adoption of the tools and technologies that ground these investments. Whether it be internal tools or customer-facing technology, measuring adoption and utilization of these investments is critical to understand return on investment, and where subsequent and continuous improvement initiatives should be prioritized. Measuring adoption and utilization early and often also enables organizations to better connect the dots between usage of these tools/technologies and their impact on contact center volume, customer experience, and employee experience. Without measurement here, we risk making misguided investments that are not aligned to strategic objectives and customer or employee needs in the future.

Nate Brown, Sr. Director of Customer Experience, Arise

There is a metric making waves in the call center/CX/customer service space for good reason - customer sentiment. Customer sentiment is simply the way a customer feels about a product or service.

In the past we hardly even tried to capture this, but with tremendous advances in Voice of Customer technology, it is now one of the absolutely most effective ways to measure the quality of an interaction. As more and more of our customer feedback data come from unstructured channels (reviews, organic interactions, consumer communities) versus structured channels (surveys), the versatility of customer sentiment makes it very attractive.

A customer sentiment score can be established by implementing a Customer Experience Management platform with strong automation capabilities. By bringing all customer interaction data into this centralized location, everything from recorded calls, to customer emails, to social media posts, to reviews on third party sites can be organized and scored. This gives us the capability to compare different touch points across the customer's journey to isolate friction points. It's timely, specific, and correlates well to things like Customer Lifetime Value and renewal rates.

Rob DwyerVP, Customer Engagement, happitu

Call it retention, call it attrition, call it turnover. Whatever you call it, show me an organization with low employee turnover and I'll show you an organization with happy, confident, and competent agents. Most of your other metrics will flow from that.

The costs associated with recruiting and new-hire training are a drag to bottom line numbers. Just as importantly, the performance gaps with new agents mean more support questions, more escalations, and potentially, more mistakes. In sales roles, those gaps often mean weaker sales numbers as well.

Mike Aoki, CX Trainer/Speaker, Reflective Keynotes Inc.

CSAT is the most important metric, since it reflects how a customer feels about their recent service.

Why not some of the other popular metrics? NPS is influenced by marketing, shipping, manufacturing quality, etc. So while NPS reflects upon the overall organization, an NPS score may not be indicative of your contact center's contribution to customer experience. And while First Contact Resolution (FCR) can influence customer satisfaction, it just means the agent helped the customer with all of their tasks. FCR does not mean those tasks were well done or the customer was necessarily happy with the service they received.

Jeremy Watkin, Director of Customer Support and Experience, NumberBarn

Since I’m only allowed to pick a single metric, I choose agent retention. Some might call this attrition or turnover. The reason I choose retention is that so many other metrics can impact this.

When we talk about retention of contact center agents, or lack thereof, we inevitably have to talk about the degree to which agents are empowered to do their job. Do they have the tools and training to achieve your handle time and quality standards? Is your company addressing those frustrating product and policy issues that impact customer satisfaction? And are you paying a competitive wage and offering some degree of flexibility to fit the agent’s lifestyle?

Do so and you’ll retain your best and brightest agents and your customers will most certainly thank you for it.